Higher education is in ‘crisis’ as fewer students are going to class and choosing to study online, an academic has said.
Many universities say “for the record” attendance is still lower than it was in 2019, but they can’t provide numbers because most courses aren’t taking a roll.
However, Associate Professor Peter Field – director of the School of Humanities and Creative Arts at the University of Canterbury (UC) – said students learn ‘jack shit’ by watching recorded lectures in their dorms. .
“Attendance has dropped significantly,” he said. “It’s not just down, but it’s down by huge margins.”
* University of Canterbury cancels graduation ceremonies 23 days before ceremonies are held
* Massey University students want to return to in-person teaching at Alert Level 1
* Coronavirus: University of Auckland students’ ‘appalled’ classes to resume on campus
The shift to online learning was accelerated by the 2020 and 2021 shutdowns, but despite the resumption of face-to-face teaching, many students continued to study remotely, often watching recorded lectures.
Talk to Things from New York, where he conducts research, Field wonders about the effectiveness of this approach.
“[If you] find out what they really learn alone in their apartment, what you will find out is that they learn some bullshit.
“The only way for them to learn something worth [the] $100,000 a year that teachers get paid is so [students] are directly engaged with someone who is smarter than them…pushes them.
Watching lectures online “can work,” he said, but only if the student has their camera turned on, so the lecturer can see if they’re engaged in the session.
“What can’t work is if I record my lectures and they watch it at one and a half speed, two days later.”
The role of an academic is to determine whether what is being taught is too difficult for a student or not hard enough, he said.
“The tuition they pay for me is because I have a knack for understanding what students know, what they don’t know, and pushing them beyond what they know. . The only way to do that is to engage with them.
“[If] I never bring lecture notes to class, that means I’m not prepared. I come to hire the students to find out where they are and have them work where they don’t feel comfortable.
A UC spokesperson said “the majority of our more than 21,000 university students are adults, ranging from teenagers to seniors.”
“[They] manage their study schedules around busy lives, some via distance learning, online or in person, others in the field, in schools, laboratories or research stations.
“There are many Ako – Learning & Teaching initiatives to support students, including Kia Angitu and ACE.”
Imogen, a sophomore at UC, has only been on campus six times since the start of second semester nearly two months ago.
She rarely visits the library and only attends workshops and tutorials when they are required.
“Most of us are going to spend our entire degree barely going to campus,” she said.
“I don’t know anyone who attends all the conferences.”
After getting into the habit of working from home last year, Imogen said she now finds going to campus “overwhelming”. She spends some of her time at home in the North Island and feels like she is studying remotely.
Her class has “a lot of essays” and “not a lot of exams” and because her course is accessible to international students, the content is online, she said.
“Because everything is so accessible, it’s hard to get the motivation to go when you can get it in your free time at home.
“There are a few speakers who don’t like you not coming in, and they make it a little harder for you to do it online. But there are others that are really great and they want you to be able to access them online.
“I don’t see it as a lack, to be honest. I really agree not to go there.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said moving the university break could contribute to shortages of summer workers in the horticulture and tourism sectors.
Andrew Lessells, president of the New Zealand Union of Student Associations (NZUSA) said many students “didn’t see the point of attending classes”.
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing, people learn in different ways and going to a conference, being bored, isn’t necessarily the best way to learn for everyone.”
Some students have benefited from home learning, he said, especially those with disabilities or family commitments, but the quality of online instruction needs to improve.
“Unfortunately, the move to online education hasn’t been a quality change in many cases, it’s thrown PowerPoint slides online, recorded a lecture, and left it to the students to deal with.”
Professor Ekant Veer, associate dean for postgraduate research at UC, was most concerned about the welfare of students who are not physically engaged or present on campus.
“We must be ready to support these students. It’s much more important to me than whether a room is full or not.
“We can track how students are doing with content and when they interact with online material and most are doing very well given the circumstances.”
Professor Jeanette King, acting executive dean of UC’s Faculty of Arts, said that “anecdotally some staff have noticed lower numbers than before Covid”.
“However, students have many more options for interacting with online course content through course recordings, so even if they’re not participating, they’re still accessing the content.”
Students in certain courses are credited for attending classes and tutorials, “To encourage not only attendance but class participation,” King said.
“Some staff have noted that attendance appears to be about the same as pre-Covid. Language courses, for example, are generally very well attended.